2014 Best Student Actress Nominee Interview: MiMi Scardulla as Hildy Esterhazy in The Boston Conservatory's "On the Town"

Photo by Heidi Bowers Photography

Photo by Heidi Bowers Photography

Before we announce the winners of the 2014 ArtsImpulse Theatre Awards, we are proud to present our Nominee Interviews.

NOTE: If you or your production was nominated for a 2014 ArtsImpulse Theatre Award, and you would like to participate in a Nominee Interview, please email us here.

MiMi Scardulla is a rising senior at The Boston Conservatory, but you should say that you knew her when. With an impressive command of the stage and a thrilling mix of acting, singing, and dancing talents, MiMi was an immense pleasure to watch in the giddy production of On the Town as madcap but lonely Hildy Esterhazy.  Her talents and commitment remind us why we choose to review university students, and encourage us to continue to recommend such rising stars.  In her Interview, MiMi discusses how The Boston Conservatory is helping her achieve her goals and dreams, her favorite parts of On the Town, and some of the roles on her Miscast! list. 

Hi, MiMi. So wonderful to speak with you. Can you start by telling our readers a little bit about yourself?

Well, I am a rising senior at the Boston Conservatory. I grew up in the small town of Hammond, Louisiana. I’ve been doing theatre since I was five years old, and I knew the stage is where I was meant to be when I was cast as a butterfly in The Sleeping Beauty.

I really owe my career to my sister. So, thank you, Annie, for being an awesome big sister and dancing and doing theatre because, if I didn’t want to be just like you, I probably would’ve never entered the crazy world of show business. From that little butterfly to making my New York debut this year in an Off-Broadway Lab, I have loved every second of being an actor. 

How did you end up at The Boston Conservatory?  What made you choose Boston?  Where do you hope to go and do after graduation?

I owe ending up at The Boston Conservatory to Dave Clemmons. He was my college advisor and, at first, I did not want to audition for the Conservatory. However, Dave insisted and I, of course, listened. On a snowy day at Chicago Unified auditions, I walked into a dance call with Michelle Chassé. Two hours later, BoCo was my number one choice, and I remember telling my mom: “If I get in here, there is no question, I am definitely going!”

Michelle Chassé, my director for On The Town, was the reason that I chose The Boston Conservatory. That dance call in Chicago never felt like an audition. It felt like two hours of absolute fun. Michelle not only challenged me, but connected with my personally, which helped me perform at my best. She wasn’t only auditioning us, but already teaching. I thought to myself: “This is the kind of person who could bring my performing to the next level.” And Michelle has most definitely done that tenfold.

I hope to move to New York after graduation and pursue the dream. I want to kick-ball-change up on that stage as long as everyone will let me, but I’m also an aspiring choreographer and I would love to pursue that as a career path as well. Way down the road, I wish to move back to Louisiana and open up an arts school for children and teens.

Talk to us about your training.  What is a conservatory program like?  What classes do you take?  What is a typical day for you?

A conservatory program is very challenging. A typical day for me last from about 9am to 7pm, and, if I’m in a show, we go ‘til 11pm. As crazy as that sounds, I love it. I get to do what I love all day! The challenging schedule truly prepares you for the reality of the business. I even say I feel over prepared because, on top of my performance-based classes, I have theatre history courses and other liberal arts classes to keep up with.

A typical day for me is as follows:

9:30 Voice Lesson/ 10:30 Musical Theatre / 12:30 Voice and Speech Dialects Training/ 2:00 Music Theory/ Ballet or Jazz 4:00/ 5:30 Liberal Arts Course

Who was Hildy?  What is her story?  What does she want?

Hildy was a sassy cab driver who gets what she wants no matter what. I absolutely love her. I love how she is so impulsive; I always said: “She says and does everything I don’t have the guts to say and do.” She is a New Yorker through and through. She knows the city like the back of her hand and she loves the city as if it were part of her family. She drives her cab looking for adventure and a good time and can’t seem to stay awake on the job.

However, she sure wakes up when Chip walks by and the rest is history.  The two of them are a match made in heaven. She brings out Chip’s wild side and Chip calms her down a bit. Chip is what she wants. Not exactly him, but I think Hildy wants someone to share her life with someone to last more than one night. She wants someone who can tame her!

What was your favorite part of On the Town?  What was the most challenging?

My favorite part of On The Town was “You Got Me.” The five of us in that number (Chip, myself, Ozzie, Claire, and Gabey) became such good friends during the rehearsal process that when we got to that moment in the show it was a pure celebration of friendship. I’ll never forget the energy I felt on stage during that number every night.

The most challenging thing for me was rooting Hildy in reality. She is a crazy character, but it was important for me to not make her a caricature. So, I developed very clear intentions and wants throughout her storyline so I didn’t fall into the trap of just trying to be funny. Also, Chip (Zach Jones) and I really focused on making each time we met on stage feel like it was happening for the first time. That was not too hard considering he is one of my best friends.

Why do you think that On the Town was revived on Broadway?  Had you seen the show before?

I think On the Town was revived because a few reasons. First, it is a beautiful marriage of music, song, and dance. Second, it is a love letter to New York City, celebrating all the amazing things that the city still offers to this day. Third, it is, as they bill it on Broadway, “a helluva good time!”

I have been lucky enough to see you act in a play and in a musical.  Which do you consider to be your strongest attribute, singing, acting, or dancing? Why?  What do you think is your weakest?

I always think this is the hardest question to answer. I believe that I am pretty good at doing all three at the same time. My strength is performing and, when I’m on stage, I’m trying my hardest to create a marriage between the three.

I believe where I have room to grow is in my dramatic acting. Comedy has always come easy to be, being the big goofball that I am! Dramatic acting is a skill that The Boston Conservatory has definitely helped me hone and, moving into my senior year, I will be focusing on my attention on that in an acting emphasis.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?  Why?

To read people’s minds. I am such a snoop. My friends say that in another life I was a secret agent because I like to know what’s happening at all times. Reading minds would make that much easier and make me the coolest super spy ever!!

What is your favorite movie?  Favorite musical and/or play?

My favorite movie is Dirty Dancing! I’ve been watching it since I was a little girl and I can perform all of the choreography on command. My favorite musical is Sunday in the Park with George. To me, nothing beats that score; I think it one of Sondheim’s most beautiful scores. 

Photo by Eric Antoniou

Photo by Eric Antoniou

Miscast! What are some roles that you could never conventionally play (because of age, race, gender, or other restrictions), but you’d want to play anyway?

I LOVE THIS QUESTION. I’ll just list them! Effie White (Dreamgirls), George (Sunday in the Park with George), Carol King (Beautiful), Benny (In the Heights), Frankie Valli (Jersey Boys), Girl in the Yellow Dress (Contact), and I could keep going, but I won’t!

Do you have any goals for 2015? For after graduation?

To stay focused and stay calm as I go through the year preparing to showcase in New York and graduate.

My friends and I are also working hard to found a Non-profit theatre company with a focus on getting children involved in theatre for no cost. So, be on the lookout for that!

Do you have any upcoming projects or productions?

Well, I hope to be cast in the great shows that we’ll be doing next season. For sure next year at Boston Conservatory, I will Directing/Choreographing Shrek the Musical on October 23 and 24.  I'll also be in Charles Mee's Big Love in the fall. I’ll also be choreographing Aida in the spring. There are a lot of exciting things happening senior year!!

Do you have anything else to share with our ArtsImpulse readers?

Just a big giant thank you for this nomination. Hildy is a role that I would love to play again someday, and the fact that y’all fell in love with her like I did means so much to me. Also, thank you for supporting The Boston Conservatory Theatre Program. We are so thankful to have such an enthusiastic community.